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Thread: Sewing Straight

  1. #1
    Junior Member schnurke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Kalamazoo, Michigan

    Sewing Straight

    I am a newbie, with a 1979 Singer 7110, making basic square patch pillow covers and quilts. I have a mentor who is very talented but has never taught anyone to do this before. She also has limited time. I feel uncomfortable with the way that I am sewing my square patches together. I know this is pretty dang easy to do compared to other things you could do with a machine, but like I said, I'm new My mentor says I am doing a good enough job, but I know that I could do better and expect that it could feel more natural to me.

    I don't get how to guide without pushing or pulling or put perhaps too much pressure down with the left hand. And I am curious to find out what some of you people do with your right hands. I have picked up, at another forum, that people do these things differently.

    I never took sewing in junior or high school, I'm afraid.

    I just feel uncomfortable at the machine and am looking for tips on what my hands should be doing. Of course, maybe I just need practice

  2. #2
    Junior Member Bataplai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Western Washington
    I've gone through the same thing. It's taken a few years to start to figure out how to guide my material properly, and how my machine wants me to guide it. I'm still not great, but improving over time. I wish I had a magic answer for you. I'll be looking forward to the replies from more experienced people.

  3. #3
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Emmitsburg, MD
    Practice is going to be the key here, but I think cutting straight and sewing straight are the two toughest things to do, hands down! If you master these you can accomplish anything else. Just keep practicing and you will learn!

  4. #4
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Small town in Northeast Oregon close to Washington and Idaho
    Blog Entries
    You shouldn't push or pull your fabric. I use both hands to guide my fabric through my machine. Watch YouTube videos and get an idea on what you should be doing. Go to www.craftsy.com and at the top and click on online classes. Then click on quilting and it will take you to a page with many quilting classes. Find the "Craftsy Block of the Month" class...it's free. She has ten classes and teaches you two blocks in each class. The classes are about 43 minutes each. Watch how she quilts. You will get a good idea of how to quilt. I took this class and made a quilt. It's fun and very informative. You will learn so much from Amy Gibson.
    "Be yourself...everyone else is taken."
    Strong people don't put others down...they build them up."
    "Remember that your instincts are more important than rules"

  5. #5
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Yakima, WA
    I teach sewing and keeping the fabric straight and guiding it is one of the things my students struggle with most. I do a couple of things to help them.

    I have them practice on paper. I draw lines on the paper and they pretend the lines are the end of the fabric and they line their presser foot up to it and try to keep the foot on the line. Takes practice. And I have them use an old needle, nothing will dull a needle faster than paper, so you want to have a needle just for paper work. Remove it when you switch back to fabric and save it for work on paper.

    We also practice controlling the speed at which you sew. If you have a machine with speed control, no problem, but if you don't, you need to practice controlling the speed with your foot. Slowing down can really help your accuracy.

    We also practice guiding the fabric through. The fabric will go through with or without you, and probably reasonably straight through as well, you do not need to push it, pull it, or shove it through. What you need to do is guide it. Use the fingers of both hands. Your fingers should never be directly in front of the presser foot or to the left or right of the presser foot (I say this because you can line your fabric up to the left side OR right side of the presser foot, although most people line up to the right side). Your fingers should be 1-1/2 to 2 inches in front of the presser foot, guiding the fabric so it is staying in position. If it starts to stray a little, and you feel you are losing control, stop, be sure your NEEDLE IS IN THE FABRIC, lift the presser foot and move the fabric so it is lined up again. You may have to start and stop frequently at first, but you'll get the hang of it eventually.

    And lastly, be sure your presser foot is at the right pressure. Some machines have a pressure setting for the feet. This is so you can accommodate different types of fabrics that may require a lighter pressure or heavier pressure of the foot for ease of sewing. If you have such a thing (your manual will tell you), be sure it is set on the proper setting (it's usually a dial and you set it on a number, for example, for "regular sewing", it would be #1). If you have a really old machine, the pressure may be able to be set manually, again, your manual will tell you.

    Hope this is helpful!
    Thought for EVERY Day: You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do them.

  6. #6
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Bosque County, Texas
    I consider a 1979 machine to a medium old sewing machine. I have 2 that are older and 2 that are newer. If you don't have a manual, contact Singer by telephone and ask them to send a manual. If they say they don't have one, ask them to copy the one they have on file and send you the copy. They will probably send it electronically if you prefer. I had to get a manual sent like this once when the company had no copies left, just the company copy they had on file. They did it without a charge.

  7. #7
    Senior Member QuiltingCrazie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Las Cruces, NM
    One thing no one has asked are your feeddogs working? truth be told I sewed for 6 months on my last machine without realizing my feeddogs were clogged. They were not working at all, I cleaned them up and worked like a charm. Sewing straight is easier when your following the edge of the foot in my opinion but I did put painters tape as a guide when I started. I usually have my right hand guiding the material from the back to keep it straight but switch it to the front when I need to. The thing is if you concentrate on sewing straight your hands do there thing. Don't concentrate on your hands instead concentrate on sewing and your hands will naturally go where they need to. Hope that helps I also found that the right chair makes all the difference you feel less awkward! Happy quilting

  8. #8
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    New Jersey
    I have a quarter inch foot with a guide which makes getting the quarter inch perfect much easier.

  9. #9
    Super Member QuiltingVagabond's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    South Central Indiana
    Good advice from Rachel - Some of the Singers of that era have rubber feeddogs and they will just wear off! Good feeddogs will "pull" the fabric for you without much help from you other than keeping this lined up.
    QuiltingVagabond aka Kathy

  10. #10
    amh is offline
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Saskatoon SK Canada
    I have read lalalands post. Follow it and you will be fine, just practice. I like her idea of practicing on newspaper -- saves thread.

    For me, I use my hands to guide the fabric as the machine pulls it through. The only thing I might add to lalalands post is to place a piece of tape the width of the seam that you want on the sewing bed (1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, whatever you are using). Measure from the needle to the right and place a piece of scotch tape, painters tape, whatever onto the sewing bed. Guide the fabric (newspaper) along the piece of tape. Don`t watch the needle, just guide the fabric along that line and keep the fabric along that tape line for a good 3 inches before it hits the needle. You will have a straight line.

    If you need a manual, singer has a web site where you can download manuals for very old machines.

    Good luck.

    Saskatoon SK Canada

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